For many preppers, a societal collapse is probably the scariest event imaginable that is also the most plausible.
Far removed from an alien invasion, zombie uprising, gamma ray burst, or some other fantastical doomsday scenario, this is one that can actually happen, and has happened countless times throughout history.
Though Americans might be exceptional, they are not exempt from the forces that affect humanity, and right now the stitches are starting to fray.
A near total loss of faith in the legitimacy of government, an ever widening cultural gulf between various sectors of society, and rampant economic woes means that the stresses are growing ever more intense, and soon cracks will begin to form.
When those cracks lead to the shattering of society’s foundations, chaos and bedlam will become the norm. this will be a terrible trial no matter where you are, but some places are going to fare far, far worse than others, and avoiding them should be priority number one as a part of any readiness plan.
We will talk about these dangerous areas so that you can assess your own security situation and act accordingly if society implodes.
Sure, you can make a list of places you should go when times are looking grim, but that does little to underscore the dangers that await you in certain parts of the country should society collapse.
Instead, I believe the reductive method is more informative in this regard. By looking at where you don’t want to be when society collapses it is far easier to make an informed decision about where you live currently.
Note that due to the sheer amount of variability attendant in all the potential survival scenarios that could occur during an SHTF situation, I cannot say with 100% certainty that if you live in or near any of the following types of areas you’ll be doomed should the worst occur.
In fact, the opposite might be true, you could conceivably be just fine in spite of everything that happens, and maybe even your area will remain safe and comparatively prosperous.
That might happen. But the long rosters of history have informed my opinion, and they should inform yours. Certain areas just do poorly in times of calamitous trouble. It virtually never fails.
Political Capitals, or other Government HQ’s
The government might be in disarray, fracturing or completely dissolved when society truly begins to collapse, but that does not mean that they will be powerless to protect their own installations, locations of authority, and capitals.
Under the circumstances, they’ll probably be beating, shooting and imprisoning people left and right for fear of losing their shabby rule over all of us peasants, so it is definitely in your best interest to stay well clear of such places.
Additionally, there will be a large swath of humanity that will instinctively head towards these locations from which governance flows In order to receive assistance, supplies and whatever other aid they might.
This means if you linger in such an area you’ll be subjected to a ceaseless tide of unknown contacts that could be dangerous in and of themselves, and might prove to be a secondary danger because you could get swept up in a government crackdown right alongside them.
Don’t delay in getting away from such places at the first opportunity.
Towns Between Two Major Cities
People will still move around in the aftermath of a proper societal collapse. Criminal elements will seek out new hunting grounds, or establish new corridors to conduct business while other survivors and refugees could relocate in order to improve their own chances.
To do this, it is highly likely that people will use the same, predictable routes that they always have when going from place to place.
Trails, roads, highways and interstates, assuming they remain possible at all, will usually prove to be the most direct, simplest and accordingly the most appealing route, especially when going from one major settlement to another.
If you happen to live anywhere along these routes in-between two major cities, you will see a disproportionate amount of traffic stopping over to see what is available for the taking or just to set up shop in your area.
Once again, this will mean a never-ending stream of unknown contacts and constantly increasing pressure on what resources are available to you and yours.
This is a common mistake when people flee from a major urban area only to settle in a so-called bedroom community 30 to 45 minutes away.
Other people will do the same thing, and that means you should relocate to a place that is legitimately out of the way from an urban area and not directly along a route
Major Metropolitan Areas
The largest cities and the surrounding burbs that make up major metropolitan areas are the most densely populated in the country. In times of great strife, more people means more problems, almost invariably.
The obvious issues of resource consumption, traffic and competition for limited access to relief aid, law enforcement and professional medical intervention means that your chances of obtaining any of them when you need them get geometrically smaller.
And then there’s the more harrowing possibility bordering on a certainty of increased violence. Desperate, scared, hurting people act irrationally and often violently.
Also, not for nothing, the criminal element is disproportionately present with greater numbers, organization and usually ferocity in urban areas than elsewhere, at least throughout America. Both of these factors combined will pose a significant threat to life and limb.
Although you generally don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere during the collapse of society it is in your best interest to get well clear of these largest and most heavily built up areas.
Smaller, rural communities where it is easier to know people and be known are far more likely to remain habitable and comparatively prosperous under the same circumstances.
Near Strategic Targets
It rarely fails that countries undergoing serious civil unrest will attract opportunistic military action from enemies, with old grudges or strategic interests being struck while the iron is hot, or in response to the misguided adventurism of the ailing government that is trying to distract the population from real problems.
This means that, in the gravest extreme, military action from an opposing power could be conducted against strategic targets in our country.
Though, hopefully, highly unlikely this could potentially result in nuclear strikes, or significant conventional bombing strikes against strategic targets.
In open, No-holds-barred warfare this will be large population centers themselves but also things like industrial, transportation, commercial and financial hubs.
Military bases and installations will as always be prime targets as well. It goes without saying that you don’t want to be near any of them when the balloon goes up and hostilities commence.
Even if open war is not declared, the government will likely have a reasonable suspicion that such targets must be protected from threats both foreign and domestic and will move to secure them accordingly with their own military forces.
This will never be a good thing for you if you are forced to live and survive near such places. Get away from them while you still can!
Areas Which Produce Little or No Food
Let’s face it: much of America only has a reliable amount of food to eat because of trade, and specifically trade that is facilitated by the incredibly intricate and incredibly fragile gears of modern commerce.
When one or two sprockets come off, the deliveries stop arriving and that means the food stops coming. If you live in such a place, you’ll only be a few days or weeks away from bedlam.
It pays to live in a place where food actually comes from. The raising of livestock, the growing of crops, even places with abundant wild sources of food are all worth considering.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t consider it in a vacuum: some folks make the mistake of thinking that they will be the only person who knows where to find unconventional or hidden food sources in a given place and justify remaining there because of this so-called secret knowledge. Trust me, you won’t be.
As competition for food and other resources heats up, clashes and violence will become more and more frequent. You or someone you love could very well be killed for a case of water or a couple of cans of vegetables if things get bad enough.
Areas with Little or No Fresh Water
Just like food, fresh, drinkable water will be an incredibly precious commodity during a societal collapse.
Sure, maybe all of the interconnected systems and personnel that keep public water supplies flowing and safe will keep on working and manning their posts, but then again maybe they won’t.
As with everything else, it will be up to you to both source and provide that water for yourself and the people you care about.
Instead of trying to squeeze fresh water from a stone, you can make things a whole lot easier by living in an area with easy access to plentiful, natural freshwater sources. Lakes, rivers and streams are all reliable standbys, as are areas that get copious rainfall.
This is not to say that you won’t have to treat this water to make it safe for human consumption, especially over the long term, but you’ve got to have the water before you even have to worry about treatment.
Deserts, obviously, are the hands down worst area when it comes to water sustainability, but you should also be wary of more temperate areas that don’t have many large freshwater sources nearby.
Places with Extreme Climates
Like many other public utilities, the resources that we rely on to make habitation and modern homes possible despite outside weather conditions, namely electricity and natural gas or propane, are going to become more and more scarce during a societal collapse if they remain available at all.
Both are industrially complicated to produce and deliver, and you cannot count on access to either.
Exposure to the elements, heat and cold alike although cold is the major killer, will greatly amplify all of the attendant survival challenges post collapse. Although human life is far from impossible in these places, it will be far more difficult and more grueling.
Even if you rely on a more primitive form of heating, such as a wood burning stove or fireplace, this will dramatically increase your dependence on keeping your logistical chain in good shape to maintain your fuel supply.
Living in a mild or temperate climate region will not completely eliminate challenges posed by extreme weather conditions, but it will ease them significantly. Also, think long and hard before you decide to stay in a place that is prone to any type of major natural disaster.
Coastal areas are always appealing, but a hurricane on top of a societal collapse will be a veritable death knell. The same can be said for tornado- and blizzard-prone areas. You might yet decide to make a go of it in these places, but you better think carefully about the trade-offs.
Politically Contested Areas
Let’s get real, folks: The cultural divide between Americans is turning into a chasm, and getting wider and arguably unbridgeable every single day.
People are already all over each-other over political differences that just two or three decades ago wouldn’t even have been worth bringing up at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Arguably, our country needs a divorce, but chances are it is not going to happen in a peaceful and amicable way, and old grudges won’t just disappear in the aftermath of a society toppling event.
In fact, such a division is likely to erupt into full-blown internecine conflict for the duration. Now, wherever you have people you have trouble, but this trouble will emerge the quickest and turn the nastiest wherever you have simmering political conflict to begin with.
It follows then that you want to get as far away from these places as you can when you can. Live in a place that is as culturally and politically homogeneous as possible, and you’ll stand a better chance of getting through the proceedings peacefully.
Now, this is something you’ll need to invest in early, as carpetbaggers who arrive in town only when things have gotten too bad elsewhere are usually viewed with suspicion or outright derision in such places.
Get there now, settle down, assimilate to the local culture and traditions, and start making friends.
When modern society collapses it will unleash shockwaves of suffering across the land. Certain areas will be uniquely prone to falling apart under the stresses, like an epicenter in an earthquake.
You will give yourself and the people you love the best chance for success by steering well clear of and living elsewhere from these places.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.